Are Docs Helping Patients With Insurance Exchanges? Survey Results

Marrecca Fiore; Laurie Scudder, DNP, PNP


November 20, 2013

In This Article

Insurance Exchanges: How Involved Should Docs Be?

When asked, "What do you think is a doctor's most appropriate role in giving patients information about insurance exchanges?" the majority of respondents -- 62% of all respondents and 80% of primary care physicians (PCPs) -- said physicians should have either a limited or no role in providing information on insurance and insurance exchanges to patients.

A plurality (41%) of all respondents indicated that they agreed with the statement, "Doctors should not feel compelled to discuss insurance with patients but should make sure that the practice billing staff is knowledgeable about insurance exchanges and coverage issues and can discuss those subjects with patients." PCPs, however, were much less likely to believe that they should have any role, with only one quarter (24%) agreeing with this statement. One healthcare professional commented, "Doctors need to stick with what they know [and instead use] their staff, which are usually knowledgeable about insurance," to assist patients with exchanges.

Over one half (56%) of PCPs said that doctors should have no role in helping patients with insurance, choosing the answer, "Information about insurance is something that patients should research on their own, without involving the office staff or the doctor." Only 22% of overall participants agreed with this statement.

Many of the comments left on the article also support the notion that doctors should be "hands off" when it comes to providing patients with insurance and health exchange information.

One women's health physician wrote, "Hopefully I can spend more constructive and productive time in preventive care and actual patient management, instead of wasting time counseling patients on the stresses of understanding the details of insurance programs. Hopefully."

But not everyone agreed with these sentiments.

Despite recommendations from professional associations, such as the AAFP, only 23% of respondents and a fraction of PCP respondents (6.5%) chose the answer, "Doctors should be prepared to discuss insurance issues with patients if patients bring them up." Another 15% of all respondents and 11% of PCPs chose the answer, "Doctors should encourage patients to ask about insurance issues, especially regarding insurance exchanges."


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